There’s been a lot of buzz in the geek world about how James Cameron’s upcoming film Avatar looks like it’s a rip-off of a 2008 animated film release called Delgo, from Electric Eye Entertainment. I grabbed a copy of Delgo and watched it, both looking at the storyline and comparing it as I went with the fifteen minutes of Avatar footage I’ve seen (see my review of Avatar Day footage for details).
What you should do right now is go and watch the Avatar trailer at Apple Trailers. Now, with that imagery in mind, check out these images I grabbed from Delgo…
In this first picture, you can see the facial characteristics and skin tone of Delgo as he hangs on a tree branch, seconds before being rescued by Princess Kyla. Compare that to this picture from Avatar, of Jake looking off into the distance:
Similar, but not that similar…
One of the signature scenes in Avatar’s trailer is the kiss between Jake and Neytiri. Is there a parallel in Delgo? Well, check the above, even to the floating fairy mushroom image in the background.
The scene where Jake and Neytiri kiss has only a superficial similarity, if that.
In this rather blurry image, you can see that Delgo also has the concept of flying pterodactyl-like creatures that are controlled by a bridle. In Avatar, there are similar beasts but they are controlled by pulling on their long antennae:
I could show a few more Delgo images, but what I want to say is that there are some definite similarities between Delgo and Avatar, at least the footage I’ve seen, but I don’t see it as a rip-off regardless. The images are sufficiently different, and more importantly, the story seems to be completely different, leaving us with the similarity of two fantasy worlds inhabited by humanoid creatures and fantastical beasts and flora.
Is that enough to claim theft of intellectual property? I don’t think so. Of course, we’ll never know if James Cameron watched or even studied Delgo when he was envisioning the world of Avatar, but since he says he’s been working on the film for a decade now, it seems like his basic concepts are likely to predate the Delgo production by years anyway.
Maybe the relevant question to ask is: did the Delgo design team study Avatar sketches?